Expanding the IT Skill Toolbox: Change Management Skills


What we know about change management

In Microsoft’s research last year, 37% of IT Decision Makers (CTOs, Senior Architects, etc.) surveyed identified change management skills as a top skill gap on their teams. Similarly, driving end-user adoption was a top priority for 53% of IT decision makers. Moving forward in cloud transitions, managing these rapid changes at an organizational level will be critical in driving end-user adoption. Anticipating impact to end-users, understanding upcoming updates and managing communication channels as changes occur, are all critical skills for ensuring a smooth transition and deployment.


Why it matters

Change looks different in the cloud. It’s faster. It’s incremental. It’s constant. The cloud has flipped the traditional ‘update’ model on its’ head. As @Susan Hanley said in her piece on Network World [Note: she also includes resources for change management!]:


“Successful change management is a lot about managing expectations. When people are fully informed and aware of changes to the software they use every day, the changes can be easier to accept – especially if you have evaluated the impact of these changes in advance.”


Understandably the term change management covers a range of topics—from soft skills required to interact with end-users to understanding the new servicing model that Microsoft uses when providing Windows 10 and Office 365 updates. The resources listed below are by no means comprehensive but provide a place to start. We’ve included both specific Microsoft resources as well as some online training for more generic change management training, including a variety of change management models.


TechNet Library - Change Management for Office 365

The Servicing Model.jpg

What it is

A more applied version of change management—Microsoft provides a summary of release channels and how you can manage updates to Office 365 client applications. This helps explain the new servicing model and how new functionality releases will impact the cadence of upgrades to applications used by your organization.


Why we like it

Several different formats help walk you through the new servicing model strategy, ranging from posters (downloadable), videos, charts describing the rollout process, and tables describing release options for difference branches and products. Additionally, the page provides tips for testing (best practices) and follow-up resources.


Office Blogs

Teams Rollout.jpg 


What it is

The Office Blogs provide detailed blog posts around major Office updates. The blogs are searchable by product, use case (Business, Public Sector, Partner, etc.), and form factor. You can also save filtered searches, so you can tailor your blog newsfeed.  


Why we like it

In addition to the searchability function, the content is shareable to social channels and has RSS feed capabilities. Content is also linked to additional Microsoft resources, provides FAQs at the bottom of many posts, and has a comments section which allows for users to ask questions right on the post.


Lynda - Change Management

What it is

An online platform with video instruction from recognized industry experts, Lynda has a variety of business skill topics to choose from. Lynda provides two levels of monthly memberships – basic and premium, as well as a 10-day free trial. Basic membership starts at $20 per month and premium runs at $30 per month.


Why we like it

Although the Change Management section doesn’t have a ton of courses to choose from, the courses are high-quality and walk through phases of change management, ways to implement processes, and initiatives to influence change. The courses also consider change management from several different perspectives; individual, project and organizational.


Mind Tools - Change Management


What it is

An online learning resource focused on career development, Mind Tools offers over 1,000 skills, techniques and tools, including downloadable content, video sessions and newsletters. Mind Tools offers two memberships – standard ($19 per month) and premium ($27 per month), with a bonus deal of $1 for the first month.


Why we like it

The website provides a high-level view of change management and then breaks change management down into smaller steps. The Change Management toolkit includes multiple models of change management, techniques for assessing organizational structures and processes for communication and training.


Do you use these resources?  How have they helped you manage change in your organization?  Let us know by replying below!

5 Replies

“Successful change management is a lot about managing expectations. When people are fully informed and aware of changes to the software they use every day, the changes can be easier to accept – especially if you have evaluated the impact of these changes in advance.”


Now if you can only get your own teams to practice what you preach. I think this quote is very important and should be drilled into your Project Mangers (or whatever you call them) for Office365.


Hi Cary, thanks for your feedback - but could you be more specific to help me understand where this is coming from?

I think there's some unmet expectations of what services FastTrack provides and what is required from the organization receiving those services. I'm assuming that's what @Cary Siemers is referring to as I have heard that from a few of our clients. I would say compounding to the challenge is that Project Manager are not necessarily trained in Organizational Effectiveness / Change Management, so again the experience might not be what you were expecting.

It is the irony that you are offering training on Change Management Skills when all too many Microsoft Program Managers don't seem to follow the tenants of Change Management. How can I buy-into the training when I see your own organization not doing it?

Prime examples of what I'm talking about is the Clutter fiasco and more recently the Autogeneration of Direct Report Groups.

best response confirmed by Michael Blumenthal (MVP)

Understand where you're coming from @Cary Siemers, Microsoft is not immune from change management faux-pas which only reinforces how important change management is across the industry.  Here are a few interesting posts on Change Management at Microsoft in the community you might be interested in reading:


As a sidenote - the Microsoft product teams are highly aware of issues you mentioned and are actively working to learn from the experience.